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Quarterly Tanker Market Update: Q1-2014
Crude tanker spot rates strengthened significantly during the first quarter of 2014, with Aframax and Suezmax rates achieving their highest quarterly averages since the fourth quarter of 2008 and the second quarter of 2010, respectively. The increase in tanker rates was primarily due to a combination of stronger fundamentals and seasonal factors, particularly during January and February of 2014. Record high crude oil imports by China of 6.6 million barrels per day (mb/d) during January 2014, and a greater volume of long-haul Asian crude imports from West Africa, led to an increase in crude tanker tonne-mile demand during the early part of the first quarter. Seasonal weather delays, particularly in the Atlantic basin, further tightened the freight market and led to a significant spike in crude tanker rates. These strong rates dissipated during March 2014 as seasonal factors abated and Chinese crude imports slowed. This weakness has extended into the early part of the second quarter of 2014.
Product tanker rates remained relatively flat during the first quarter of 2014, failing to benefit from the seasonal factors which drove up crude tanker rates. Medium-Range (MR) tanker rates declined during the quarter as the onset of seasonal refinery maintenance from March 2014 onwards led to a reduction in product exports from the United States. Conversely, Long Range 2 (LR2) tanker rates gradually improved during the quarter due to an increase in naphtha volumes from the Middle East and the Atlantic Basin to Asia; however, rates remain below the long-term average.
World tanker fleet
The world tanker fleet grew by 1.6 million deadweight tonnes (mdwt), or 0.3 percent, in the first quarter of 2014. A total of 3.7 mdwt of new tankers were delivered into the fleet, the lowest first quarter delivery total since 1998, while 2.1 mdwt of tankers were scrapped. The tanker orderbook currently stands at 67 mdwt, or approximately 13 percent of the existing world tanker fleet. Taking into account expected slippage and scrapping, the Company estimates the tanker fleet to grow by approximately 1.2 percent in 2014, the lowest level of tanker fleet growth since 2001, and by approximately 1.8 percent in 2015.
In its April 2014 World Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) left its outlook for global GDP growth broadly unchanged at 3.6 percent and 3.9 percent for 2014 and 2015, respectively. This is an improvement on global GDP growth of 3.0 percent in 2013 and signals an expected continuing recovery of the global economy. Global oil demand is projected to grow by 1.2 mb/d in 2014 based on the average of the forecasts of the International Energy Agency, the Energy Information Administration, and OPEC, a slight increase from oil demand growth of the 1.1 mb/d in 2013. The forecasted increase in global oil demand is expected to translate into increased demand for crude oil tankers in 2014 compared to 2013.
Stronger global oil demand growth coupled with low tanker fleet growth, particularly in the crude segments, is expected to lead to an increase in tanker fleet utilization and therefore, freight rates during 2014 and 2015.
FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS
This video and content contains forward-looking statements which reflect the Company's current views with respect to certain future events and performance, including statements regarding: tanker market fundamentals, including the balance of supply and demand in the tanker market, and spot tanker charter rates. The following factors are among those that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements, which involve risks and uncertainties, and that should be considered in evaluating any such statement: changes in spot market tanker rates; changes in the production of or demand for oil; changes in trading patterns significantly affecting overall vessel tonnage requirements; greater or less than anticipated levels of tanker newbuilding orders or greater or less than expected level of tanker scrapping; changes in applicable industry laws and regulations and the timing of implementation of new laws and regulations; changes in the typical seasonal variations in tanker charter rates and other factors discussed in Teekay Tankers' filings from time to time with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Report on Form 20-F for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2013 and its Reports on Form 6-K for the quarterly periods ended June 30, 2013, September 30, 2013, December 31, 2013 and March 31, 2014. The Company expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in the Company's expectations with respect thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.